What’s the Role of Industry Associations for BAS Agents?

An industry association membership may be just what you need

a registered BAS agent wanting to join an industry association
Joining an industry association can help towards things like CPD points, but it pays to make sure you’re getting market rate for any courses and that the ongoing fees are of benefit to you.

IF YOU LIKE BOOKKEEPING, but you’d like to provide additional services to your clients, the next step is to become a BAS agent. BAS agents provide businesses with a range of services, including the lodgement of business activity statements, registering and advice on all GST matters, assistance with PAYG, and a number of other services.

There are a number of requirements to becoming a registered BAS agent. For starters, you need at least a Certificate IV in Financial Services, and then you need to have supervised experience working as a BAS agent so that you can become certified by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). (If you’re not TPB certified, you can’t work independently as an unsupervised BAS agent.)

How industry associations help

There are a number of recognised bookkeeping industry associations in Australia. To register with the TPB, you must have a minimum of 1,400 hours of supervised experience with another BAS agent, unless you’re a member of an industry organisation — then you only need 1,000 hours of supervised experience.

Industry associations help BAS agents keep abreast of changes to the industry, including new legislation that make affect clients, as well as change to the Act that may affect BAS agents. They also administer or oversee continuing professional development (CPD) training, which the TPB requires BAS agents to undertake each year to keep their certification and continue working in the industry.

Industry associations BAS agents can join

Bookkeeping industry accredited accreditation associations companies

There are a number of industry associations a BAS agent (or aspiring BAS agent) can join, each with different membership requirements and joining fees. They include:

  • Association of Accounting Technicians — affiliate members must have Certificate IV in Financial Services or at least two years experience and no formal qualifications; membership fees: $295 for three months ($1,180 per year).
  • Australian Bookkeepers Network — no requirements to join; membership fees: $462 annually.
  • Institute of Certified Bookkeepers —  Affiliate members must have Certificate IV in Financial Services or complete an ICB assessment; membership fees: $264 annually. (After achieving 12 months experience Affiliates can become Associate members; membership fees for contractors $432 annually.)

Other industry associations BAS agents can join, include:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ANZ
  • Chartered Accountants ANZ
  • CPA Australia
  • Institute of Public Accountants
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)

Industry associations and CPD training

A key reason to join an industry association is to gain access to training that goes towards your mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) points, which every individual working in the financial services industry — whether they’re bookkeepers, BAS agents, accountants or financial advisors — must complete annually. We have written before about the type of education the TPB requires in order to get your CPD points.

Many associations run their own webinars and in-person seminars (for an additional fee), which count towards your CPD hours. (BAS agents must complete 45 hours of CPD over a three year period.) Some of them will help you with the running of your own bookkeeping business, while others will take you through new trends in bookkeeping (single touch payroll) or changes to the Act and relevant legislation.

BAS agents can also complete software training, in MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks, as well as Microsoft Excel or Word training; they can even complete cyber security training, so long as it’s approved by the TPB.

Each time you complete a webinar or some other form of approved CPD training, it’ll be counted towards your CPD hours. You can also complete CPD training through an accredited training organisation. (Check with your industry organisation to see which training institutions you can learn with.)

Choosing an industry association

Not all industry associations are the same. Some are geared more towards the accounting industry (CPA, Chartered Accountants ANZ, etcetera) and accountants; others cater specifically to bookkeepers. Even within the group of associations that cater only to bookkeepers, some provide a range of services (updates on the industry, CPD training), while others offer very little (discounts on professional indemnity, a newsletter).

As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you want to pay very little, you’ll get very little in return from your industry association. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot either. Have a look at a few of the associations we’ve listed above, and see which one suits you best.

The Association of Accounting Technicians offers affiliate memberships, which provides affiliates with access to a number of discounted fees on training courses to help them develop their skills and progress to a “member” level membership — and then register as a BAS agent with the TPB at the reduced 1,000 hours of experience concession.

They also offer discounts on professional indemnity insurance and bookkeeping journals and publications. And they offer a range of online webinars to help members get their CPD hours up.

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EzyLearn’s online training courses are accredited by BAS agents, accountants and bookkeepers — those we deem to be the industry’s “high water mark” for bookkeeping work. These people are the highest qualified individuals operating in the accounting and bookkeeping space. If they believe the content of our courses is genuinely of high quality and relevant to the bookkeeping world, then this is the accreditation that should give our students peace of mind. 

I found the EzyLearn Xero course great — a comprehensive step-by-step learning tool to add to my resume and a new tool to use in my Bookkeeping Practice.”
— Patricia Darby
Registered BAS Agent and Bookkeeper, High Quality Bookkeeping

 

How Bookkeepers Can STOP Losing Out to Accountants

Or is it just BAS Agents who are losing out?

Good experienced Xero, MYOB Finance Manager and bookkeeper for local bookkeeping - Natbooks LogoTHE BURDEN ON Australian small businesses to stay compliant with the ATO is immense. A lot of that is to do with the Government not distinguishing between a small business with upwards of 20 staff, and a micro business which may have 5 or fewer staff — sometimes even no staff.

All of this compliance — bookkeeping, activity statements, payroll, superannuation, and so on — is costly and time consuming, so most business owners outsource this work to a professional contractor. Before the Government changed the tax laws, it was bookkeepers who small or micro business turned to.

Prior to 2010, a bookkeeper could complete and lodge your BAS and tax returns without needing any formal qualifications — that’s since changed.

Accountants kill two birds with one stone

Even though few small or micro businesses actually need the services a financial accountant provides — financial planning, say — a lot of tax accountants are picking up clients that would have, prior to the law change, gone to a bookkeeper, and it’s usually because they are scared of getting something wrong and then getting slapped on the wrist about it. 

Small businesses (SME’s) want the cheapest and easiest way to stay compliant, and dealing with one person is easier than dealing with multiple people, especially if there are any issues with how one person has worked, and the business owner winds up stuck in the middle.

If a business is large enough, a Finance Manager can be employed to systemise the work and then manage the low cost junior bookkeeper, and the accountant and provide the business owner with the results and reports they need and want. 

[box] In the new bookkeeper induction for new members of National Bookkeeping we take students through the formalities of signing up a new client, defining the type of clients they want and the category of bookkeeper they want to be and we find it helps them get into the systemising mindset.[/box]

 

BAS agents and accountants charge the same

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

Junior bookkeepers can win business they’d normally lose to an accountant by becoming a qualified BAS agent, or going to work for an accountant where they’re allowed to perform all of the bookkeeping and BAS work because they’re being “supervised” by an accountant.

Finding the middle ground

The middle ground for people who want to start their own bookkeeping business and become a contract bookkeeper is often to perform bookkeeping tasks that involve more than just data entry, but less than the tasks covered under the tax act as a BAS Service, like credit management. It’s also important to be emotionally intelligent.

This involves data entry and accessing customer information but also communicating with late payers, difficult customers and problem solving for complex sales transactions. This work requires a bit more bookkeeping experience AND life experience and it’s very important to the financial health of the business.

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To learn more about the kind of accounting professional your business needs, visit the National Bookkeeping website.

You will find a number of professionals — from bookkeepers to BAS agents, to Chief Financial Officers — who can provide the right accounting services for your business at an affordable price.

Do You Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant? Or Someone Else?

There are many finance professionals — who does your business need?

find a good local bookkeeper
Does your business need a bookkeeper, accountant or perhaps just a BAS agent – or a little bit of everyone?

WE’VE MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY THAT finding a bookkeeper, when you may not know much about bookkeeping, can be a difficult task.

In fact, a lot of new business owners assume their accountant will take care of everything for them, which may be costly if their accountant has to perform a year’s worth of bookkeeping in order to file the business’s tax return. But bookkeepers and accountants can work harmoniously in your business.

As a general rule, every business needs at least two finance professionals working on their business accounts, but which two professionals you’ll need to hire depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure who you need to hire for your business, here’s a cheat sheet to help you out.

Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)

An independent bookkeeper not employed by an accountant and not registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) may only perform basic bookkeeping services, such as the entering of receipts, coding financial transactions, generating invoices and, possibly, some accounts receivable work. If you hire this type of bookkeeper, you’ll still need an accountant.

BAS agents

BAS agents must, by law, register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), which certifies that they are qualified and have completed the necessary continuing education requirements to perform the tasks of a BAS agent, which involves carrying out most of the bookkeeping tasks mentioned above, in addition to preparing and lodging business activity statements on a business’s behalf.

If your business is registered for GST, you will need to file regular activity statements. If you hire a BAS agent, you’ll also need an accountant. In some instances, you may find a BAS agent who’s also a registered tax agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Tax agents

Although tax agents, like BAS agents, must also register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), a tax agent is focused on income tax — how much income you have to declare, how much you can claim back, etc.

This is distinct from a BAS agent who is concerned with the day-to-day financial tasks of your business (bookkeeping and BAS lodgements). That said, some tax agents will also perform some the basic bookkeeping tasks on a regular basis, though they primarily specialise in lodging tax returns.

If you’re not registered for GST, and your tax agent will also perform regular bookkeeping tasks (or you can do it yourself), you may not need to hire an accountant. In some instances, you may find a tax agent who’s also a registered BAS agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Accountants

An accountant is mostly concerned with planning and strategy. Unlike bookkeepers and BAS or tax agents, an accountant will assess and advise you on what actions you should take to maximise your income. Great accountants will get involved with planning the direction of your business and ensure it’s been structured properly and that you’re meeting any additional tax obligations.

They’ll also help you to make strategic purchases for equipment and machinery, and work with your BAS agent or bookkeeper to ensure these decisions are reflected in your daily financial records. An accountant is also able to prepare and lodge tax returns on your behalf.

How much should I pay a bookkeeper?

Check out the National Bookkeeping Directory, which features the details of bookkeepers, capable of doing data entry and clerical tasks, through to high-level accounting work as undertaken by BAS agents, accountants and CFOs.

You can also see the National Bookkeeping rates page to find out what level bookkeeper your business needs.


cashflow reports in xero and excel

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

BAS News Flash: BAS Agents Can Now Lodge TPARs

If you're a registered BAS agent you just became a whole lot more valuable to your clients!
If you’re a registered BAS agent you just became a whole lot more valuable to your clients!

BAS agents can further specialise in the construction industry

WE LIKE TO KEEP our online cloud accounting course graduates up to date with changes to the bookkeeping industry and today is no exception!

If you’re a registered BAS agent working in the building and construction industry, then we’ve got some major news for you: the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) announced in July that BAS agents can now lodge Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPAR).

Making more money as a bookkeeper

In an earlier blog, we talked about how you can improve the rate you earn by specialising.  Carving out a niche for yourself — for instance, honing your skills in a particular sector, like the building industry, with all its complexities — will also see you able to earn top dollar (this is exactly what the professionals at Buildon Bookkeeping do).

Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPAR’s)

Before you can register with the TPB as a Tax/BAS agent, you’ll first need to work under the supervision of another Tax/BAS agent. If you are planning to work in the building and construction industry, you might consider working under the supervision of a Tax/BAS agent providing bookkeeping services within the industry already — so you can get a handle on lodging TPARs.

TPARs are an annual report outlining every payment made to suppliers and contractors for that financial year. Every entity or business within the building and construction industry must now prepare one.

When TPARs first came into effect in July last year, only tax agents were able to prepare the report, but on 15 July 2013, the TPB announced that BAS agents could now provide this service, which must be lodged by the 21July every year.

But wait, there’s more! The TPB has also amended the Tax Agents Services Act (2009) to allow BAS agents to provide the following services:

  • Superannuation Guarantee Contribution and Superannuation Guarantee Charge work
  • Superannuation Contribution payment and reporting services

As the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers understands it, BAS agents will not have to become registered with the TPB to provide these services, even though they were typically services carried out by a Tax agent.

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If you’re a registered BAS agent, you just become a whole lot more valuable to your clients, particularly if you work within the building and construction industry.

If you’re still unsure about the services you can now provide your clients, see the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers website, and for more information on lodging TPARs, click here.